Illusory flowers in an empty sky

Virtuous man, all illusory projections of sentient beings arise from the wondrous mind of the Tathagata’s Complete Enlightenment, just like flowers in the sky which come into existence from out of the sky. When the illusory flower vanishes, the nature of the sky is not marred. Likewise, the illusory mind of sentient beings relies on illusory [cultivation] for its extinction. When all illusions are extinguished, the enlightenen mind remains unmoved. Speaking of enlightenment in contrast to illusion is itself an illusion. To say that enlightenment exists is to not have left illusion yet. [However], to say that enlightenment does not exist is also no different. Therefore, the extinction of illusion is called the unmoving [mind of enlightenment].

Virtuous man, for example, because of an illusory illness [of the eye], a flower is falsely seen in an empty sky. When the illusory illness [of the eye] is eliminated, one does not say: ‘Now that this illness is eliminated, when will other illnesses arise?’ Why? Because the illness and the flower are not in opposition. Likewise, when the flower vanishes into the empty sky, one does not say: ‘When will flowers appear in the sky again?’ Why? Because the sky originally has no flowers! There is no such thing as appearing and vanishing. Birth and death and nirvana are like the appearing and vanishing [flowers in the sky], while the perfect illumination of wondrous enlightenment is free from flowers or illnesses.

from the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment

The photos are of smoke from a prescribed burn in the Black Hills mingling with the clouds at sunset yesterday.  Beautiful, illusory flowers in an empty sky.

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